April 29, 2017

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Protesters Interrupt Michael Froman’s Speech

On January 27, USTR Michael Froman testified before the Senate Committee on Finance, and he estimated that the TPP will be finalized within the next several months. He also requested that Congress approve the renewal of the Trade Promotion Authority Act since President Obama needs that authority it to conclude the TPP.

While Froman made his remarks, several protesters in the chamber held up signs and with messages protesting the TPP and TPA. One protester held a sign that said “Trading Away Our Future #TPP Stop Fast Track.” She claimed that TPP would deprive the US of jobs since it would send jobs offshore. During the speech, Froman argued that exports create more jobs across the US. The Committee hearing highlighted the clash between the Obama administration’s claim that the TPP is good for US businesses and the fears of some citizens that the TPP would deprive them of their jobs.

Another protester held up a banner with the message “TPP Fast Track Job Killing Act.” He claimed that he wanted “democracy not secrecy.” Since TPA gives the President comprehensive authority to negotiate trade deals, his administration could bypass Congress and not reveal the detail of trade deals. TPA only allows Congress to decide whether to ratify a trade deal or not. Therefore, opponents of TPA often argue that TPA is contradictory to democracy, because it weakens Congress’s power with regard to trade negotiation.

However, Froman said that the TPA would “put Congress in the driver’s seat” and that TPA “clarifies and strengthens public and Congressional oversight by requiring  consultations and transparency throughout the negotiating process.” All of the protesters were soon detained by the police and arrested after being removed from the chamber.

(Source: http://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SFC%20Trade%20Agenda%20Hearing%20-%20USTR%20Testimony.pdf)

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